Dear “Idiot Parents” whose family occupied seats in Row D, seats 15, 14, 13, and 12 of the Showbiz Cinema in Kingwood, Texas on Friday, November 4, 2016 at the 7:10 p.m. showing:
You know who you are. Several times during the movie we made direct eye contact as I glared at you for a few minutes then looked at your son, then looked at you and glared some more. He looked to be about 7 or 8 years of age. I would like to think that maybe you brought him into a movie where you didn’t realize what was going to be shown on screen. I would like to give you the benefit of the doubt. Once you saw the graphic violence, you should have taken your son out of the theater. I would have.
This is not a “Call of Duty” video game. Director Mel Gibson stated he wanted to make it feel real; he didn’t want to shelter the audience from the horror of war because it only made the story of Desmond Doss more compelling that this man of faith enlisted after feeling called to help stop the evil after Pearl Harbor. Desmond Doss took the 10 Commandments very seriously when God said “Thou shalt not kill.” Desmond was real and the story is real. The Bible was Desmond’s weapon of choice versus a gun. Maybe you thought it was more a story about a Christian being able to serve their country as the first conscientious objector to go on to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Maybe you thought it was a story about a man with a Bible having survived one of the most bloody battles in the Pacific campaign on the Maeda Escarpment (which came to be known as Hacksaw Ridge) in Okinawa. Once you saw it wasn’t, you should have taken that child out of this theater.
The online trailer of the movie does not really adequately gauge or prepare you for what you will experience on the big screen: The sounds made your body startle including bullets hitting a helmet or the knife or bullets going into a body. Entrails, brains, limbs, and blood all went flying. Heads were cut off. There was blood-curdling “I’m dying in agony” screaming. Rats were eating bodies. Flamethrowers were burning people alive. There were massive screams of agony. Many of these were in close-up shots. Mel Gibson was effective in getting you to feel like what it would be like to be in war without having the injuries. I would say that is was even more graphic than “Saving Private Ryan.” I left the theater in tears and they didn’t stop for quite some time. I was also crying for your son. I imagine tonight your son will have nightmares.
I have become a great observer of behavior with my nonverbal son with severe autism. I watched your son a lot tonight because frankly I couldn’t watch what was happening on the screen and my head was turned in the direction of my husband who happened to also be in the direction of your son. I was deeply concerned by his body language. But you wouldn’t have seen that because you and your daughter were inappropriately laughing during some of these scenes; your husband never looked away from the movie. I had my head turned away from the screen and put my jacket up to my forehead to shield me from the graphic depiction of war. Your son turned his head in my direction and we made eye contact. I was wiping away tears from my eyes; he gave me a sad expression that said, “Yeah, I agree with you.” I gave him a look like I was so sorry he was being forced to stay there. He returned looking forward, but his eyes were not on the screen. They were looking down and around. He was biting his fingernails a lot (he wasn’t at other points in the movie). He shifted a few times so that his body wasn’t directly facing forward. His lips were pursed at times. In other words, he was stressed.
A child that young should not be in a movie that attempts to make war as real as possible. This movie is for adults. There have been several reports of adults walking out not because it was a bad movie but because it was too realistic for THEM to handle. The “R” rating says children under 17 cannot be admitted without being accompanied by an adult; it assumes the adult will have the good judgment. Even better would be for an adult to pre-screen a movie to discover if it is appropriate or not for viewing of their child. In all honesty, this movie should have gotten an NC-17 rating. I never thought I would see that moment where a child goes from living in a world of innocence to a world he is too young to see. At the end of the movie, I not only clapped for the movie and had tears streaming down my face for this man whose story I never knew, but also for a world that exposes children to adult subject matters too soon in their lives.
May God be with that child as he tries to work through all he saw tonight on the screen. May God give him peace in his slumber. I will be praying for you.
By all means, SEE THIS MOVIE. It should be best picture next year at the award ceremonies. But leave the kids at home.